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The knowledge of the masses

2 November, 2008 (14:13) | Internet | By: pooq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

(Screenshot of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page)

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) is an online encyclopedia where each reader might act like an editor or author at the same time. This lead to Wikipedia having a very large portfolio of recent articles which are offered to the visitors.

The principle Wikipedia uses is practicable in the Internet only: concentrating the knowledge of many people within a single result. Along this way Wikipedia with the wiki as well established a new tool. Once you understand the functionality of a Wiki you will understand Wikipedia as well.

A wiki provides an interface for entering the texts of articles. It includes design elements of the Internet such as hyperlinks or tables in a simplyfied way to allow a broad range of people to work with the editor tool. In addition the Wiki software will manage the articles and automatically create indices and search functionality. But the main aspect of the software is the version control. As often a large number of authors are making changes within the articles the version control allows to retrieve any old version at any time.

Wikipedia has a broad acceptance and offers a wide range of substanciated and clearly arranged articles to almost any theme which makes a printed lexicon unnecessary. Furthermore the data within the articles are up-to-date, new information often is added in a matter of seconds. As typically for the Internet the articles contain links to other relevant Websites, which offer further information.

As all changes will directly get visible in some cases there are bad or even wrong articles. This is because of a lack of knowledge of the authors (especially in small articles with very few authors) or by malice of so called „Trolls“ who tried to provide bad information on purpose. Especially in the last case the large community is very fast in fixing such attacks by using the version control.

Wikipedia has become an accepted knowledge base, which does not have to hide behind professional editorial lexicons. The advantage to printed lexicons is it’s topicality and the possibility to use hyperlinks to get further information. In addition it is free and online available. The quality of the articles usually is high. Nevertheless for Wikipedia as for any other source of information you always should doublecheck important information with other sources.